For students of western civilization, the word has quite the mystique.
Invaders from the frozen north, flying across the seas on dragons-head ships, wreaking
havoc on seaboards and penetrating deep into Europe’s heartland to cause even
more. Kings and priests feared them;
behind them, cities were cast into smoke. For decades they were the
unholy dread of Christendom, but theirs is a history not limited to battle and
chaos. The Vikings is a history of
the turn of the second millennium in Europe, of not only the northern clans but
of the civilizations they altered; the English, Russian, Norman, Italian, and
even Arabic. As the last of Europe’s
pagans roamed far and side, from Constantinople to North America, so to does
Ferguson explore not only their military and political strivings, but their religious culture as well. Although Vikings is a weighty work, dense with information, it's presented as-such; there's no overall idea to tie each section together, and because their wanderings were so broad the reader is thrown from place to place in every other chapter. There's no want of detail; Carolingian politics, variations in the Heathen religion, and even home sites at archaeological digs are given extensive consideration. For those interested in the Vikings, and their impact on European history at this time, The Vikings will be a worthy source of information; for the only slightly curious, however, its density may be intimidating.